The Drop Everything List
The Livestock Show and Rodeo in Houston, dancing to Nina Simone, a forum with chef Alice Waters, and a Texas Cowboy Poetry gathering in Alpine . . .
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Throw your plans out the window. We scoured the state in search of the top events and offerings, from a King James Bible exhibition in Austin to the reopening of Casa Navarro in San Antonio. Here’s our super select guide to the things you absolutely can’t afford to miss.
[Feb 24–March 1]
The King’s Speech
The King James Bible, the first popular English translation of the greatest story, has fallen out of favor as easier-to-read interpretations have materialized. But “The King James Bible: Its History and Influence,” a new exhibition at the Harry Ransom Center, will reiterate its legacy, with an emphasis on how its sometimes archaic language permeates works like William Blake’s illustrations, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches, and Robert DeNiro’s tattoos in the movie Cape Fear. “There’s a poetry to it,” said Danielle Sigler, the exhibition’s curator. “The translators would read the verse out loud as they were working on it. It was written not to just be read on the page but spoken and heard.” See Bibles used by soldiers, Bibles for children, and Bibles written in Braille. Admire the Bible that Mark Twain had aboard a chartered ship to the Holy Land while writing The Innocents Abroad. And take a look at a first-edition King James “He” Bible (first printing) and “She” Bible (second printing). Even if you aren’t a Christian, you can still be enlightened.
Harry Ransom Center, February 28, various times. hrc.utexas.edu.
A hero’s welcome greeted José Antonio Navarro, the Mexican rebel turned Republic of Texas representative, when he returned home after escaping from the prison to which Santa Anna had banished him for treason. “It’s like the real Count of Monte Cristo story,” said Maureen Brown, site manager for Casa Navarro, a former property of Navarro and his wife that was converted into a state historic site and is reopening Saturday after a yearlong renovation. The 1850s adobe and limestone property has been brought into the 21st century with energy-efficient lighting, air-conditioning, and a gift shop. A block party of re-enactors, food vendors, and music will show it off. Learn through an interactive exhibition about this man of epic proportions who simultaneously advocated for Tejano rights and forged a Texas identity by helping to consummate the Texas Declaration of Independence and the first two Texas constitutions. “Instead of being one of those physical revolutionary fighters,” Brown said, “he fought with his quill.”
Casa Navarro, February 25, 9 a.m. visitcasanavarro.com.
A decade before Whole Foods Market started making fresh, organic foods readily available to the public, the chef Alice Waters was bringing the farm to the table at Chez Panisse, her restaurant in Berkeley, Calif. In the four decades since, Waters has become a leader of the local sustainable-foods movement. Her book The Art of Simple Food is a must-have for foodies, and her Edible Schoolyard Project is an “eco-gastronomic” model for teaching students the fundamentals of nutrition and food preparation. Waters will bring her visionary take on New American cuisine to the Progressive Forum, a speaker series that has hosted Seymour Hersh, the New Yorker writer; Jane Goodall, the anthropologist; and Ken Burns, the filmmaker. Even those who cannot attend can submit a question to Waters via the forum’s Web site. Here’s one: What’s the key to your divine goat cheese salad?
Wortham Center, February 27, 7:30 p.m. progressiveforumhouston.org.
Dancing Alone to Nina Simone
In 1992, the Dallas Black Dance Theatre shared a stage for one night in Italy with Nina Simone, the great soul singer. Later that evening, Simone serenaded the group in the hotel lobby until “the wee hours,” said Ann M. Williams, the dance theater’s artistic director, who converted the fleeting moment into a curriculum. “We used her life as an example of an artist always striving to find themselves in their art form,” Williams said. “The Nina Simone Project,” a piece produced by Williams and the choreographer Dianne McIntyre, will bring that inspiration to the dance theater’s Cultural Awareness Series. The weekend performance features two other pieces that will introduce you to the only full-time professional dance company in Dallas as it celebrates its 35th anniversary. But it is “The Nina Simone Project” in particular that Williams said allows the dancers to “fulfill the passion of coming through their movements.”
Wyly Theatre, February 24-26, various times. dbdt.com
Rope Around the Clock
Only half of the two million people who attended last year’s Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo actually attended the rodeo. That shows just how appealing this event has become to all walks, with nearly two dozen concerts; an assortment of wine, barbecue, and golf competitions; and a scavenger hunt.
Reliant Park, February 28-March 18, various times. rodeohouston.com.
Poets Who Know It
The spinners of verse in the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering couldn’t care less about iambic pentameter; they just want to offer up, in song or spoken word, honest, plainspoken distillations of their beatific lifestyle, and in the process make poetry accessible to those who got turned off when it became academic.
Sul Ross State University, February 24-26, various times. texascowboypoetry.com